A PLASTERER who racked up thousands of pounds of debt after losing his job and turning to selling Class A drugs has been jailed.

Wraps of heroin were found in Paul Howell’s garden when the police executed a warrant at his property on May 5.

Officers found a total of more than 50g combined of crack cocaine and heroin in the 40-year-old’s possession after the action was taken at his home in Burrs Road, Clacton.

Recorder Tony Badenoch QC stated there was no doubt the case was one involving a county lines operation during the sentencing at Chelmsford Crown Court.

Howell admitted possession with intent to supply crack cocaine and being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs and was sentenced to 40 months imprisonment on Wednesday.

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The court heard how when Howell was apprehended by police officers, he was found to have 28.8g of heroin and 22.6g in a separate amount of crack cocaine, with a total street value of at least £5,000.

He also had £1,280 in cash which was believed to be money gained from illicit sales that day.

Following a search of his property, wraps of heroin were found in the garden and drugs paraphernalia seized, including a Nokia mobile phone “unquestionably” used to operate the drugs line.

Police officers revealed the 40-year-old had been involved with the supply of drugs since January 30.

Mr Badenoch said: “It is accepted between the parties you had a significant role in the drugs operation.

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“You had some awareness of the scale, given the information that is before the court and the fact you were apprehended with drugs on you.”

Steven Levy, mitigating, argued Howell became depressed after losing his job as a plasterer, “suffering terribly from anxiety”.

“He ended up in £3,000 to £4,000 of debt. We’ve seen how quickly drugs can destroy someone’s life.

“Rather than rehabilitation he found himself wrapped up in drug dealing to pay off his debt. These debts very quickly spiral and what is a couple of wraps can increase.

“He’s not top of the tree but if there weren’t runners there wouldn’t be people above.”